Chris Christie Suggests Teachers Should Be 'Punched in the Face' - Teacher Takes Him Up On It

Election '16

Eager to score points with the Republican base voter while he wastes his state's tax dollarson a futile campaign for the Presidency, the pile of toxic waste that calls himself Chris Christie lambasted teacher's unions on Sunday, volunteering in an interview that teacher's unions should be "punched in the face."

"At the national level, who deserves a punch in the face?” CNN's Jake Tapper asked the New Jersey governor during an interview. The question was a callback, he said, to Christie's affinity for saying during his first term that "you can either sidle up to [bullies] or you can punch them in the face."

"The national teachers union, who's already endorsed Hillary Clinton, 16, 17 months before the election," Christie replied.

Christie's solid reputation for nasty, bullying outbursts is well known, so his hostile attitudetowards the people who spend their lives in an effort to educate our children is as unsurprising as his abysmal poll numbers.  The American Federation of Teachers, as well as the New Jersey Education Association, called him out on his statements immediately, demanding an apology:

Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT, and Wendell Steinhauer, president of the New Jersey Education Association -- the state's largest teachers union -- have both condemned Christie's comments.

"That [Christie] would threaten to punch teachers in the face -- mostly women seeking to help children meet their potential and achieve their dreams -- promotes a culture of violence and underscores why he lacks the temperament and emotional skills to be president, or serve in any leadership capacity," said Weingarten's statement.  

However, the most effective response came today from an actual teacher, who offered to take Christie up on his blowhard threat. Russ Walsh, a 45-year teaching veteran and curriculum director for schools in Pennsylvania and New Jersey wrote a letter back to the New Jersey Governor and Presidential candidate (reprinted here in full from the Washington Post and also available on Mr. Walsh's Blog):

By Russ Walsh

In case you missed it, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, candidate for the Republican 2016 presidential nomination, declared Sunday on CNN that teachers unions need a “punch in the face.” Faced with low numbers in the polls and with being out-bullied by Donald Trump, Christie has decided to come out swinging — at teachers.

Of course the teachers union has no literal face, and the leaders of both major teachers unions, Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers and Lily Eskelsen García of the National Education Association are women. I don’t think even a Republican candidate for president could get away with punching a woman in the face. Belittling them, yes. Berating them, yes. Taking away the choice of what they do with their bodies, yes. But not striking a woman, especially with a Hillary running on the Democratic side.

So, taking all this into consideration, I would like to step up and offer Christie my face to punch.
I am well qualified for the job. I have been a public school teacher and administrator for 45 years. I have been the president and the chief negotiator of my local teachers union. I have been sharply critical of Christie’s education policies on my blog. I deserve that punch in the face. I have earned it. Not only that, I live just a stone’s throw from the State House in Trenton, so I could meet the governor there at any time, if he ever happens to get back to New Jersey.

I am sure it would give Christie a boost in the polls and solidify his standing as a violent, bullying looney worthy of Republican voter support. It might even be enough to get him on the stage at one of the primary debates, where he could punch Wolf Blitzer in the face and garner even more support.

Better yet, forget the debate and let Trump and Christie duke it out in a steel-cage wrestling match.

No doubt Christie’s spin doctors will be out today declaring that he has no animus toward teachers, just teachers unions. Christie, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Andrew Cuomo and others seem to forget that a teachers union is made up of teachers and that while individual teachers may not agree with every action of their unions, those unions represent the desires and aspirations of millions of hard-working teachers across the country — imperfectly perhaps, but emphatically for the better of teachers and children and public education overall.

When teacher unions fight for better working conditions for teachers, they are also working for better learning conditions for children. When unions fight for job protections for teachers, they are also working to ensure that children have access to the best knowledge and the best instructional strategies available, unfettered by flavor-of-the-day ideology. When teacher unions fight for reasonable pay, they are fighting to attract high-quality candidates to the profession.

What has Christie’s teacher-bashing and vitriol against unions, his stripping of job protections, his attacks on pensions done for the children of New Jersey? How have his repeated attacks on teacher unions improved education for the children of New Jersey? How has his hiring of political hacks to bring unpopular education policies to the impoverished cities of New Jersey helped schoolchildren?

The answer is, of course, not at all. The children of New Jersey are worse off educationally than they were when Christie took office. And yet, those teachers he loves to hate keep soldiering on, doing their best in the face of intolerable and deteriorating conditions to provide a good education for New Jersey’s children.

If Christie wants to punch the teachers unions in the face, he needs to realize that he is punching every teacher in the face. He is punching each and every dedicated teacher who has been working to improve the lives of children for decades before Christie discovered that bashing teachers is a winning campaign strategy.

So, Governor Christie, here is my face. Take your best shot. I won’t hit back. I will just pick myself up, dust myself off and go back to being the best teacher I can be. To paraphrase Nathan Hale, “I regret that I have only one face to give for my profession.”

The demonization of unions, including teacher's unions, is a primary piece of the warped puzzle that makes up the Republican Party's agenda, one dear to the New Jersey Governor's heart, that seeks to privatize the public school system and turn education into a profit venture for the hedge-funds who are backing his campaign.  It's a theme we are sure to see from all the Republican hopefuls, as it seems there's nothing cheaper and easier than beating up on teachers--after all, it's every bully's secret dream.

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